The story of Jamie Dimon is the story of modern Wall Street. He sits at the top of the country's largest bank, as CEO and Chairman of JPMorgan Chase. He oversees more than $ 2 trillion in assets and a quarter of a million employees from Manhattan to Mumbai.
He was there when banking went from button-down and off-book to flashy and too big to fail, through the financial crisis of 2008 – and into today's era of even bigger banks. And now presidents, prime ministers, princes and sheiks are seeking his advice.
So who better to ask about President Trump's tariffs and trade war, the revenue gap and the recent criticism of him by Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren?
Lesley Stahl: Then Elizabeth Warren of Iowa said the other day, "Our democracy has been hijacked by the rich and powerful," and you jumped in and said this week about her "destroying successful people and having harsh words for bankers in Wall Street. "
Jamie Dimon: What I commented on is that everything that destroys people I just don't like. I think most people are nice, not all. I think you should destroy Nazis, but you should not destroy people who worked hard to achieve things. And so my comment is, I think it's American society ̵
Lesley Stahl: She said, "The system works well for the wealthy and well-connected, and Jamie Dimon," she brings you up, "doesn't want that to change."
Jamie Dimon: I shouldn't comment on someone in particular.
Lesley Stahl: But she comments on you. You have become a target. Whether you want to answer it or not, you are her target and you are the target of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Jamie Dimon: I understand that a person in this seat is going to be a target in this day and age for certain politicians and stuff. But the notion that I am not a patriot, or that any of these others are not pat – it's just dead wrong. So– you know, my view is that we should all work together. And I don't mind if I – a few barbs are thrown my way by someone.
Lesley Stahl: You're tough.
Jamie Dimon: I'm not that tough, but I– there's nothing I can do about it.
Lesley Stahl: The stock market is going through the roof, and yet production is down over the last year. Wage growth is slowing down. So when you see on the state of the economy right now, what do you see? Do you see strength? Do you look petering out?  Jamie Dimon: The consumer, which is 70% of the US economy, is quite strong. Confidence is very high. And you see the strength of American consumption it drives the US economy and the global economy. And while the business slowed down, my current view is that no, it was just a slowdown, not a petering.
Lesley Stahl: You sound pretty optimistic about the economy.
Jamie Dimon: Yeah. I am.
Lesley Stahl: What about the question of unpredictability right now on the economy. Is it worrying for you. It must be worrying for every businessman in the country.
Jamie Dimon: The world is unpredictable. I think that's a mistake.
Lesley Stahl: Well, more unpredictable than usual.
Jamie Dimon: No. If you look at history, if you take a newspaper and open it at any time of all years, d has the same list of hugely unpredictable things.
Lesley Stahl: Why doesn't it feel that way? Why does it feel like we were in a particularly precarious time?
Jamie Dimon: Human nature looks at fear and reacts in the short term. But again, there have been 50 or 60 international crises since World War II. Only one really affected the world economy in the short term.
Lesley Stahl: What was it? Vietnam?
Jamie Dimon: No. Vietnam did not. Vietnam obviously changed America, but it was the Middle East oil crisis in 1973 when the oil went from 2 to 20 and we had a global recession. There have been wars with India and Pakistan, we got Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, Vietnam, China had wars with Vietnam, China had wars with Russia. None of these things affected the global economy. And the other thing is: people look at the negatives. It's positive. The Berlin Wall went up, the Berlin Wall came down. So …
Lesley Stahl: And the economy was not affected, is that what you say?
Jamie Dimon: Just fine. This is the most prosperous economy the world has ever seen, and it will be a very prosperous economy over the next 100 years.
Dimon's even confused by the trade war and President Trump's imposition of duties on China.
Jamie Dimon: I've been to China and the Chinese would say he brought us to the table.
Lesley Stahl: You know, the tariffs, it's like a bomb you blast, and the problem is that it falls on you. The bomb falls on them, but the bomb falls on you.
Jamie Dimon: The risk of customs duties was that– that it sends up to be more of a trade war as opposed to a quietly negotiated thing. It must be fixed. This is not going to war. OK, this is trade and economics, and resolution would be a good thing. And then I hope this happens.
China is the far east boundary of Dimon's global economic empire, overseeing his office in JPMorgan Chase's New York City headquarters.
This is the heart of the bank's empire …
Little trading is carried out on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange these days. Traders generally buy and sell computers on their own trading floors. This is one of several at JPMorgan Chase.
Jamie Dimon: This is one of six commercial floors in the building. That's like 450 people in this trading floor. This is equivalent in London, half of this in Hong Kong, and in 23 other countries around the world.
JPMorgan Chase moves more money in one day than most countries earn in a year.
Jamie Dimon: We move $ 6 trillion every day.
Lesley Stahl: Every day?
Jamie Dimon: Every day. We are dealing with 10,000 customers, which includes governments, central banks, mutual funds –
and wealthy individuals, including about half of the world's famous billionaires, an exclusive club to which Jamie Dimon himself belongs.
He was born in Queens, New York, the grandson of a Greek immigrant who did well enough to become a stockbroker. Dimon's father became one too, so it was in the family.
After Harvard Business School, he went straight to Wall Street where he climbed quickly and helped us get started in the age of megabanks, earning a reputation as a reckless diet-cutter. He became CEO of JPMorgan Chase in 2006, when profits surged on Wall Street and the financial crisis was in the brink. In the first days of the 2008 crisis, Dimon received a phone call from the head of one of Wall Street's biggest investment banks at the time, Bear Stearns, who was dizzy on the verge of collapse.
Jamie Dimon: CEO of Bear Stearns called me and said, "Can you lend me $ 29 billion before the night is out? Because if I don't get it, will I go bankrupt?" And I said – I said, "Even – even I can't get (LAUGH) $ 29 billion."
But then the tax office, Hank Paulson leaned on him to buy Bear Stearns.
Jamie Dimon: And Hank Paulson said, "You have to buy it, you have to buy it, you have to buy it. And I said," If I can do it responsibly. "I said I can't put my own company at risk, we will.
Three days later he did. He bought Bear Stearns for $ 1.2 billion.
 Jamie Dimon: We thought we saved the system. You know, we thought it would have been the domino that would have caused the whole system to crash, and it was because JPMorgan was strong that we could do it.
Lesley Stahl: Did they –
Jamie Dimon: As I pointed out in Congress, it wasn't like buying a house, it was buying a house on fire.
But it was banks and other financial institutions that started the fire by raising billions of dollars in risky loans and selling them, in many cases that they were toxic, to investors all over the world. This eventually led to the financial crisis that almost brought down the global economy.
Lesley Stahl: Looking back, do you think there were any bankers who were completely immoral and unethical, they knew exactly what they were doing?
Jamie Dimon: I think it's people, I'm not going to use the names, who were greedy, selfish, did wrong things, paid too much for themselves and couldn't give a damn. Yes.
Lesley Stahl: Greedy, ruthless. Were you?
Jamie Dimon: No.
Lesley Stahl: Do you take any responsibility for the financial crisis–
Jamie Dimon: No.
Lesley Stahl: – in 2008? But your bank sold the same type of mortgage loan.
Jamie Dimon: We– we– we– yes, okay, I –
Lesley Stahl: Toxic mortgage loans.
Jamie Dimon: I'll take some. We participated – so did brokers, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the government, government policy. But yes, we did. And that was a huge mistake. And it was hugely damaging.
Lesley Stahl: The banks were bailed, and the little guy who crashed his mortgage loans lost his home. Many families were poor. And that injustice has really hurt the feeling that this country is working properly.
Jamie Dimon: I totally agree that, if you are the average American, you would be mad at what happened. There was no right in the Old Testament. Too many people – many people lost their reputation and money, but too many people didn't, and you know, the little guy got hurt. So I totally agree with that.
Lesley Stahl: I mean, the idea that banks were bailed and they caused the problem, to begin with. I mean, the feeling of injustice doesn't begin to explain the rage.
Jamie Dimon: I would feel the same way.
Lesley Stahl: You agree.
Jamie Dimon: I & # 39; I agree. I think we let the American people down. But at the same time, because we were strong, we brought Bear Stearns, we saved 15 or 20,000 jobs. And there are two sides to that story, too. And only one has been told well.
Lesley Stahl: Let's talk about the wage gap in this country between the rich and almost everyone else. How much of a problem do you see?
Jamie Dimon: I think it's a huge problem, and I think the wealthy have become richer too much in many ways. So middle-class income has been fairly flat for maybe 15 years or so. And it's not very good in America. But especially at the low end, 40% of Americans make $ 15 an hour or less. In particular, they have been left behind.
Lesley Stahl: You're talking about people who make very little money. Listen to this statistic. The compensation for executives, CEOs, grew 940%, 940%, over the past 40 years. Your average worker, then middle class, middle class, grew 12%.
Jamie Dimon: We haven't done a good job of boosting our economy. And that would solve a lot of that problem.
Lesley Stahl: Leading Salary: Last year you were paid $ 31 million. Too loud?
Jamie Dimon: The board sets me. I have nothing to do with it.
Lesley Stahl: Well, you can return some of that.
Jamie Dimon: I could. Will it solve any of these problems?
Lesley Stahl: I don't know.
Jamie Dimon: Will any of these problems be solved?
Lesley Stahl: No, but you can be an example and say, "I'm not going to take all the money. I don't need it."
Jamie Dimon: I could. I leave it to the board to comp. Not you, not the press–
Lesley Stahl: You answered each of my questions, but this is your question.
Jamie Dimon: Yeah, the board has to do it.
Lesley Stahl: Well, let me ask you – in a general way. Should executive pay in this country be dampened?
Jamie Dimon: What does it mean?
Lesley Steel: Cut down. Should there be a way of saying, "We should not have such a spread between our workers and the guy at the top"?
Jamie Dimon: You know, when you say something like that, you have to say, "How are we going to do that? What makes sense?" I think you use the tax system to do that. I would not have cut the wealth of the rich. I wanted extended income tax credit instead – which is like a negative income tax credit for lower paid people. We should probably change the minimum wage, which I don't think has been changed for 10 or 15 years. There are solutions to these problems. The problems are real. That doesn't mean Free Enterprise is bad.
Free enterprise has been very good for Jamie Dimon and the bank. Last year, JPMorgan Chase made $ 32 billion in profits.
One of the things he does as CEO is to hold regular town hall meetings with employees, like one in Delaware, to build a sense of team spirit.
It struck us, but as less as a banking convention than a political meeting.
That led us to ask …
Lesley Stahl: Did you ever think about running for president?
Jamie Dimon: I thought about it.
Lesley Stahl: You thought about thinking about it.
Jamie Dimon: I was talking to a person, and I decided not to think anymore.
Lesley Stahl: I ask you because we came up with an offer from you. You said, "I think I could beat Trump. I'm as tough as he is …"
Dimon in ABC NEWS Video: … I'm as tough as he is, I'm smarter than he is. And by the way, this wealthy New Yorker actually made his money. It wasn't a gift from Dad.
President Trump responded in a tweet about Jamie Dimon: "… he lacks the ability or" smarts "and is a bad public speaker and nervous mess."  The problem with banker Jamie Dimon running for president is that he lacks the ability or "smarts" and is a bad public speaker and nervous mess – otherwise he is fantastic. I have made many bankers and others look a lot smarter than they are with my big financial policy!
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 13, 2018
Jamie Dimon: And I've seen him after that, and y– and I went to the Oval Office and said, "So you want like to have this office, right? " (LAUGH) And I said, (LAUGHTER) "Not really." (LAUGHTER)
In his office, Dimons became known as the great survivor. In a career that spans nearly 40 years, he has managed to navigate through just about every panic, boom and bust.
Lesley Stahl: You are the only CEO who ran the big bank during the financial crisis that is still there. You're the survivor, the last man standing.
Jamie Dimon: It's a dangerous place to be.
Lesley Stahl: When you talk about survivors, you had cancer. Tell us about it. How did you discover it? It must have been scary.
Jamie Dimon: Yeah, I shaved, I felt a little lumpy here. And I went to my doctor and he felt it and said, "You have throat cancer." And when someone– when someone says to you, "You have cancer," it's– I mean, it's almost without – unthinkable, like– a facial expression, and a fear and of course, but the hardest part, frankly, told my family. I just didn't know how to do it. I said, "I'll tell you something, but I'll be fine." And they – and the second I said it, was chaos. You know, and the thought that I couldn't say it to my parents, so I got my wife to call. I just couldn't tell them that their son might die before them.
Lesley Stahl: Oh, my God.
Jamie Dimon: And then you … you go through all these things, and– so –
Lesley Stahl: And you're clean.
Jamie Dimon: I'm – I'm in my fifth year, so it's –
Lesley Stahl: That's it. That's what they say.
Jamie Dimon: So far – so far, so good.
Lesley Stahl: Did you ever say, "I should retire?"
Jamie Dimon: No, I love what I do.
Produced by Richard Bonin. Associated producer, Ayesha Siddiqi.